System Center 2012 R2: Worth The Upgrade?

System Center 2012 R2: Worth The Upgrade?

System Center 2012 R2 enables the Microsoft Cloud OS and unifies management across on-premise, service provider and Azure cloud.  But the important question is -- is it worth an upgrade?

The upgrade to the R2 version of Microsoft's enterprise-level monitoring, management and configuration product, Windows System Center 2012, was released to the public the same week as Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2. The flagship management suite went GA on October 18th and is available in two versions, System Center 2012 R2 Datacenter, and System Center 2012 R2 Standard.

Microsoft bills System Center 2012 R2 as a way to provide, "unified management across on-premises, service provider and Azure thereby enabling the Microsoft Cloud OS." As an R2 release, there are some added functions, new features, and of course, stability and process improvements, but understanding Microsoft's own description offers a real insight into the latest version of Microsoft System Center 2012 R2.

System Center is a complex collection of various management products. Included in the R2 version, as in all versions, are an updated App Controller, Configuration Manager, Data Protection Manager, Operations Manager, Service Manager, and Virtual Machine Manager (VMM).

Another main component for those who take advantage of high-level automation is Orchestrator, which in the R2 version, gets several new in-box runbooks and service templates.

Windows Server 2012 R2 & Windows 8.1 Support

More than anything else, the most important new feature of Microsoft System Center 2012 R2 is to provide, built-in, out of box support for the company's latest products. Chief among these comes support for Windows Server 2012 R2 and the Windows 8.1 desktop operating system.

Also, any Microsoft server applications sporting a 2012 or 2013 version number (such as Sharepoint 2013) will find full support in this latest version of System Center if it wasn't already present in SP1. Older versions of System Center can offer support for the latest Microsoft products but that requires manually bolting on updates. In fact, Microsoft had 31 management packs re-released with R2.

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Brian Nelson (MCSE, CNA) is a professional freelance writer and small business owner with the freelance writing business ArcticLlama, LLC

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This native support for newer versions is particularly important for Windows Server 2012 as some of its latest and greatest functionality ties directly to the company's so-called Cloud OS.

Businesses not utilizing Microsoft's most recent software, or those not making heavy use of cloud-based services, particularly Microsoft's Azure services, have no need to run out and upgrade to the R2 version. While there are some new, useful features and changes, the vast majority are only necessary to support new Server 2012 functionality, or for very large complex environments that have been bumping up against the "maximums" of System Center 2012 SP1.